House Democrats push for auto dealer exemption

More than 60 House Democrats are pushing for an exemption for auto dealers from new consumer financial protection regulations under the Wall Street overhaul bill.

The House included an exemption when it passed its version of the legislation in December, despite vigorous opposition from the Obama administration. The Senate bill does not include the carve-out from the jurisdiction of the new consumer protection regulator.

But the Senate passed a non-binding motion to support the exemption.

In a letter this week, 62 House Democrats urged lawmakers in the final conference on the bill to include the exemption.

"The House bill recognized that auto dealers are retailers who do not service, fund, or underwrite auto loans, but merely facilitate financing to help their customers purchase a vehicle," the lawmakers wrote. They argue auto dealers would continue to be regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and other federal and state regulators. "We believe the balance achieved in the House bill is an appropriate compromise that will ensure auto dealers can still offer optional dealer-assisted financing while maintaining strong consumer protections."

The letter was organized by New York Reps. Bill Owens and Mike McMahon. Among those signing are Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio) and David Wu (Ore.).

The National Automobile Dealers Association has lobbied heavily for the exemption. The White House, Defense Department and Treasury Department have argued against the exemption.

The 43-member conference of lawmakers finalizing the bill is set consider the issue next week.